Numecent, a maker of a promising cloud technology dubbed “cloud paging,” has acquired Approxy, a cloud-gaming startup that it spun out a couple of years ago.
The reason is that the company believes it will be easier to sell its technology to game publishers, who can use it to deliver big games instantly over an online connection. Cloud paging can magically virtualize any kind of software in the cloud, even an entire operating system like Windows. That software can then run in the cloud without modifications and run over an online connection as quickly on your computer as if it was installed on it.
Irvine, Calif.-based Numecent has helped non-game companies such as Parsons Corp., a global engineering and construction company, drastically reduce their enterprise software costs and improve performance for all users by putting it in the cloud.
“We have tried to do this deal for a while, and it is very exciting for us,” said Osman Kent, chief executive of Numecent, in an interview with GamesBeat.
Kent had first thought it would be easier to spin out Approxy as a separate company to attack the game market. He set up a joint venture, dubbed Approxy, with Yavuz Ahiska, who was a cofounder with Kent at 3D graphics pioneer 3Dlabs.
But Approxy did not own full source-code rights to Numecent’s patented cloud-paging technology. Approxy was able to cut some deals with game companies that saw big benefits, but the core publishers in the game industry were skeptical. There were failures of cloud-gaming firms such as the collapse of the original OnLive, and Sony disrupted the customers of Gaikai when it bought that cloud-gaming startup for $380 million.
“There were a handful of failures in this space,” Kent said. “Game publishers have a dim view of technology they can’t control. They want control of their own technology destiny. They want source-code access and source-code licensing. Approxy did not have the rights to give that to the publishers.”
Another problem was that some customers wanted to use cloud paging for both game and nongame applications. To do that, they had to negotiate separate deals with both Approxy and Numecent.
Kent added, “We saw the correct thing to do was to bring it back in-house.”
As part of the asset purchase transaction, Numecent will take-over all the intellectual property, a handful of employees, and customers of Approxy. The combined company will operate under the unified name of Numecent. Numecent now has more than 40 employees, and it will soon open a Silicon Valley office, Kent said.
Numecent isn’t yet saying who its cloud-gaming customers are. But Kent said the company will announce some in the future.
“As the industry continues to realize both the poor scalability and high-cost implications of pixel streaming, we successfully put cloudpaging on the map as the superior alternative for delivering games,” said Ahiska, president and founder of Approxy, in a statement. “We believe the re-unified company will now be able to continue that journey at a much faster pace and satisfy the needs of game publishers worldwide”.
As for how cloud paging works, Numecent says that cloud paging does not push pixels. Rather, it transmits pre-virtualized native software instructions inside a secure container (a page at a time and on demand). These are then executed on the user’s machine in a transient manner and at full performance. As a result, cloudpaged games can be enjoyed almost instantly, and can become web-scale with minimal server and network footprint — while reducing piracy substantially for publishers.